Meta-Analysis of Fig and Tonka Latté

Natalia Dembowska


I am not the biggest fan of flavored coffee. I understand the desire to get one, but just like with amphetamine, been down that road, made that mistake enough times to know I don’t like it enough to take it. And I don’t mean I don’t like it enough not to buy it, insinuating that if it’s given to me for free I would still have it. No. Neither speed, nor flavored coffee, are my thing. I heard kids call it pep nowadays though.

But to everything, there is an exception, right? And this exception here is the Fig & Tonka Latté that I get from time to time at Mecca, a lovely café in Rotterdam. It’s what every flavored coffee dreams about but sadly isn’t. I wonder why. Is it the syrup quantity? Or quality? Beats me.



We used to walk along that canal together, it was such a thing. I think we both really enjoy when something becomes a thing, a habit of sorts. Inventing our own traditions. Although it doesn’t take long to form one, doesn’t it? If we do something once or twice and we like it, we have the ability to make it into a thing. Comme ça.

Or maybe you do? I don’t know, it’s always been hard for me to separate us. To know what belongs to you and what belongs to me. How can I know that? How can I know if what I go through with you is mine or yours or ours? When you leave it’s just not the same, but it’s not like it was all just you. I know what I bring to the table, but with you, it’s like we bring so many delicious dishes that we forget who brought what, we leave the authorship behind as we enjoy eating the food. And that’s lovely, absolutely nothing to complain about. I suppose it just makes me a little sad because it’s so nice when our electro-magnetic fields become one and we don’t need to differentiate anything. And then when it’s gone and I’m in my own field, well, it makes me sad. That part of it makes me sad.

Even from the outside, Mecca looks so lovely, so inviting. That smell alone, stretching down the street, is already so very indicative of the goodness found inside. I think when I first went there with you, we mostly had pitas, though. Funny, because now I almost never take them. I don’t take babkas anymore either, although I still love them. I definitely should because they’re so good. But yeah, we used to take pita sabich, with the crunchy crisps, and the delicious eggies. We would sit in the autumn sun and enjoy our dégustation as we marveled at the mystery of life, and worried for humanity. In Rotterdam, we never felt privacy, we never felt like we could hide. It felt like we were always out in the wild in an urban jungle, surrounded by rich, annoyed Dutch people and the homeless.

We sometimes walked around Blijdorp just to walk. I don’t know how it’s possible we found each other in this hopeless place, but we did. Just like in any other location we both existed in, here too we just walked and walked, and walked. We both like walking so much. You pretend like you don’t, but I know you do. Your little feet get tired, all of our little feet get tired, but I suspect with you it’s not really about that. I suspect you’re rushed. You always have things to do. You always crave freedom, but you always tie yourself to something. And I always wonder whether I notice it because I do that too. Either way, we finally get somewhere - under the bridge, a bench in the middle of nowhere, a deserted site next to a valley - and we take a little break. I smoke a joint, and sometimes I convince you to smoke it with me. Such sweet times when I manage; to see you get so loose and psychedelic is always such a forbidden delight. Sometimes I don’t manage to convince you and that’s okay too. Anytime with you makes me feel like everything is okay.


In this study, the gender of the subjects was not considered. It may be seen as a limitation, but really it served as an utmost advantage. Both genders were fluid and undefined, barely noticeable. Hence, the researchers examined the subjects very carefully and psychologically, and decided that indeed, gender does not play a role here, casting a greater shadow on the inclusion of gender in any study ever made.

2 participants were used in this study. The researchers pondered long and hard on this academic inquiry, but following Kant’s undeniably logical, and unchanging principle - two’s company, three’s a crowd - it was concluded that 2 is indeed the ideal number of participants to be used in this experiment.


As I stare at the petals on my coffee, I wonder: How did we get here? How is life so fragile? What is memory but a projection of the now onto the psyche? A recollection fully based on the present moment? What does memory have to do with the past anyway?

As I zone in and out, I realise it is not my coffee, it’s a Kashmir Chai. Very good, but it is not my coffee. I frantically look around me in search of my coffee. I flip the table, I search my pockets, I empty my bag. I check whether my fly is closed. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Lighters, receipts, deodorant, and books fall down the well of this Sunday afternoon. I can’t find it. I can’t find my coffee.

As I turn around I see a white rabbit: Who are you, white rabbit? -  I ask. The white rabbit looks at me, puzzled, and sends me a telepathic message that goes along the lines of: Didn’t you realise they stopped putting rose petals on Fig & Tonka Latte?

I froze. I ordered a Fig & Tonka, not Kashmir Chai. So why do I have the petals, then, if they stopped putting them on Fig & Tonka? Surely, I wouldn’t be staring at these petals then, I would be wondering why they stopped putting them given that:

  1. Fig & Tonka Latte does not include flower petals any longer
  2. Kashmir Chai does
  3. I ordered Fig & Tonka Lattee
  4. So why does it have petals, why is it a Chai?

The white rabbit clocked in and wore their apron. They approached me and told me face to face: You ordered a Kashmir Chai. You must have known it has petals. I will fetch you the Fig & Tonka Latte now. It has no petals. But you already know that.

As I got my Fig & Tonka Latté I realised that indeed it has no flower petals on top of it. I don’t like that, but I go for a sip. What a nice sip! So nice, this coffee is so nice. It’s so weird and sweet and good. And that’s so delightful and refreshing. The fig and tonka syrup somehow complement the coffee’s flavor, turning it into something else, something new. It’s not a coffee anymore, it’s a coffee-flavored drink.

Yet, at some point, they stopped putting these beautiful petals on top of the coffee. It was such a nice touch. Why did they do that? Beats me. But it was such a nice fragrant touch. What a shame they stopped doing that. We all wondered why. I still do. But the coffee is still nice, so I keep on not asking. Maybe one day I will. It was so pretty, just such a nice touch. Made you feel like someone really cares about some things. But now it’s gone and it makes me wonder, do we still care about anything? I really hope so, because I know I do. But sometimes it makes me feel like an imposter. Like I’m the only one here. And everyone else sees their freedom in not caring. But is that real freedom? And what is freedom anyways? Is it building up walls, getting colder? Becoming the overlord? Dominating those around you with what seems like indifference, pretending like there’s nothing, gaslighting others into thinking you’re just resting your face. You can maybe fool yourself but I don’t think you’ll manage to fool me. Maybe nobody’s saying it out loud, let alone in your face, maybe nobody takes time to think about it, but I do. And I think it’s a shame. You think it’s some sort of personal freedom but it’s not. What it is is a mere lack of vulnerability. You’re scared to trust, and you’re scared to show the real you. You can only do that when you’re fucked, and even then the next day you don’t remember anything about it. You laugh it off. You consider yourself loyal, but you always forget. And you always end up doing what you want, thinking it’s gonna give you something, but in the long run it only expands your loneliness. Good luck with that. You make your choices.

Sometimes, we walked around Blijdorp, and we sat by the canal. You’ve always liked this one spot in front of this water sculpture. Its name is a little misleading because it’s not in the water, but it’s very close to it. The sculpture has a writing on it in reverse, and it’s in its water reflection that you can read it clearly: Now was then later.


I remember when we walked around Beurs one time, we were looking for some beverage. We got this disgusting vanilla-flavored coffee at Served. Honestly, how accurate as we genuinely did get served. The coffee was so incredibly disgusting, I think it was the last time I had a “coffee-flavored drink”. 

We shared it, laughing, hugging each other, and touching each other’s faces tenderly. We sat down in front of the Hilton, as we ate some little snacks that you got us on the way. You have always taken care of me on so many levels: emotionally, physically, mentally, financially. You gave so much to me, you still do. You mean the world to me.

As we sat there and snacked, and snacked, and talked, and talked. We’ve always been so vague and melancholic, so no real conclusion can ever be reached. And maybe that’s okay, maybe a conclusion is just a summary, a summary that never brings anything new. It merely summarises. And what does that give you?

We talked about the future, and we talked about the past. We talked about our parents, how much they struggled, emphasizing how much it affected us. How could they do this to us? But we also felt so sad for them. This newly found sense of freedom was already at our fingertips but we couldn’t fully feel it. Although ironically, we felt more free than now, didn’t we? It’s always like this when you anticipate something. Something big. Like a revolution, or two, or six. Or just one, but a global one. But what can be really global, is anything ever global? But we indeed knew it was all gonna happen. And I think that is what made us freeze, rightfully so. Imagine us at the front line of it all. I think we are exactly where we have to be, in all our glory and cowardliness.

As we did not reach a conclusion, yet again and to our delight, you looked at me, toute resignée, but oh so sweetly, and said: Let’s look ahead in our retro sunglasses.

Collages by Katia